After five days of long and hard -fought battles on ice and snow, Team USA has brought home five gold medals from the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics, more than any other country so far.
Altogether, the American winter gladiators have collected eight medals and stand strong in third place among 18 other countries.
Team USA proved to be the masters of snowboarding, shoveling in four medals in the men and women’s halfpipe. Shaun White, the redheaded 19-year-old pro skateboarder/Olympic snowboarder, dominated the halfpipe and won the gold medal for the U.S.
Danny Kass raked in his second silver medal behind White andhelped show the American dominance in the third Winter Olympics appearance of the event.
On the women’s side, Hannah Teter, an X Games gold medallist, brought home the gold in the halfpipe in her Olympic debut. Gretchen Bleiler, another X Games gold medallist and as the media are now calling her, the “hottest Winter Olympian,” polished off the Team USA snowboarding success by winning the silver medal in the halfpipe in yet another impressive debut.
Ted Ligety landed a gold medal for the U.S. in the men’s combined after Team USA had a rough start with other Alpine skiing events.
The infamous Bode Miller, a silver medalist from the 2002 games in Salt Lake City who has admitted to drinking and racing, was disqualified during the combined for straddling a gate, but Team USA later landed a bronze medal in freestyle skiing after Toby Dawson took third in the moguls event.
Not even the indoor ice events could stop America’s golden avalanche. Joey Cheek and Chad Hedrick brought home two gold medals for speed skating in the 500-meter and 5,000-meter events, respectively.
Both competitors won with commanding leads, Hedrick coming in 2 .5 seconds ahead the runner-up from the Netherlands, Sven Kramer.
Not everyone competing on the ice has been so lucky, however.
Michelle Kwan, the most decorated American figure skater, made headlines before she had even competed. On Sunday, Kwan announced that she was dropping her spot on Team USA because her groin injury had become too aggravating.
This would have been Kwan’s third and final chance at becoming a gold medallist, making her withdrawal from the games that much more difficult for her.
Students at Cal Poly have different reactions to the 2006 Winter Olympics.
“The Olympics is the only event I know that combines the past, present and future so majestically,” said Coleman Younger, a sophmore aerospace engineering major. “Whether we are watching highlights of the 1980 ‘Miracle on Ice,’ the graceful bowing out of Michelle Kwan or knowing that children everywhere are practicing ski jumping off their living room couches, we are all brought a little closer by these terrific games.”
On the other side of the ice, said Joe Rocha, a sophmore electrical engineering major, “The tradition is just not being maintained. The athletes are a lot less classy in the Winter Olympics and some of them are being flat-out disrespectful during their medal ceremonies. I just hate to see it go that way.”
The events will continue for a week and a half when the closing ceremonies on Feb. 26 will bring the games to an exciting conclusion. Will Team USA go all the way? Find out at the finish line.